Picture this: you’re onboard a luxury cruise ship, surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. You just spent the day exploring a Caribbean island. Maybe you went snorkeling, or relaxed on a perfect beach, before boarding to sail off to the next port. The sun is setting and you’re about to watch one of your all-time favorite bands play an outdoor concert by the ship’s massive pool. After singing your heart out to hit after hit, you run into the lead singer in the elevator on your way back to the room. It may sound like a dream, but a music cruise offers the chance to rub elbows with your favorite bands, plus enjoy a much-needed vacation at the same time.
So would you jump at the chance to see your favorite band on a luxurious cruise ship instead of in a sweaty club or a gigantic sports arena? These music-themed cruises give fans of all genres a chance to set sail on the same ship as their favorite artists.
It’s The Ship
Proudly advertising itself as ‘Asia’s Largest Festival at Sea’, It’s The Ship applies the tried-and-tested formula of booking bountiful dance music superstars on board their luxury craft, complete with all the mod-cons and leisure facilities that you’d expect. But beyond that, each year they also welcome a guest captain – David Hasselhoff and Big Shaq in recent editions – as well as an array of other curiosities, from Vegas stage shows to pop-up fancy dress parties. One of the best Music Cruises.
Route: Singapore, Phuket (Thailand), Singapore
If six days of nonstop Kiss activities, including live shows and theme nights (think Love Gun, Dressed to Kill and Psycho Circus), sounds like your idea of a good time, then this is the music cruise for you. Feel free to use the devil horns hand gesture freely — Gene Simmons dropped his attempt to trade mark it.
Ship: Norwegian Pearl
Port of departure: Miami, FL
Itinerary: Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas; Falmouth, Jamaica
Artists: Kiss, The Darkness, Bruce Kulick, Steven Adler, Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, Bob Schneider, The New Roses, Royal Bliss, The Dead Deads, Jake J and the Killjoys, Simply Queen
Lineup (2019): Kaskade, Aly & Fila, Hot Since 82, Markus Schulz, MK, Eli & Fur
Probably the most famous of the lot, the amount of work that goes into Groove Cruise is very impressive. From the sunny shores of Miami, the leviathan ventures out to Mexico’s Costa Maya – taking in the white sands, coral reefs, ancient monuments, and high octane adventure parks alike. All the while being soundtracked by a lineup of DJs befitting any top tier dance music festival.
Route: Miami (USA), Costa Maya (Mexico), Miami (USA)
Lineup (2019): Zhu, Malaa, Rezz, Skream, Jauz, The Black Madonna, Holy Goof
Another no-nonsense party at sea, Holy Ship manages to straddle the electronic underground and mainstream with its impressively packed lineups each year while not pulling any punches when it comes to production. Such is the popularity of the event, they now do two different sailings back-to-back each year, and have recently launched a new land-dwelling festival at an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic.
Route: Florida (USA), Bahamas
Soul Train Cruise
Nightly performances from funk and soul legends are the main attraction, but don’t forget: Soul Train was all about the dancing. The cruise follows in the show’s footsteps with lessons from the Soul Train dancers. After you’ve perfected your moves, hit up the nightly parties in Club Soul Train.
Ship: Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam
Port of departure: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Itinerary: Philipsburg, Saint Maarten; Frederiksted, St. Croix, USVI; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
Artists: The Jacksons, The Isley Brothers, Johnny Gill, Cameo, Peabo Bryson, War, The Manhattans featuring Gerald Alston, Atlantic Starr, Regina Belle, Karyn White, Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, The Family Store, The GAP Experience, The Urban Guerilla Orchestra, Barry White Tribute featuring Jourdan Carroll, Jason Miles – To Grover with Love Tribute
If you’re an opera fan, you’ll want to make space in your calendar for the Italian Premiere cruise (21 nights, sailing from 21 January 2020).
After taking in some of the most photogenic ports across the Med, guests will be treated to an exclusive performance from the world-renowned Venice Opera Company at the spectacular San Teodoro, the most prestigious concert hall in the city.
Cruising will be interspersed by Italian movie screenings on board, a visit to the Frasassi caves, a trip to a local farm to try local wines, and the option to take a helicopter ride in Gibraltar.
The Rock Boat
With five-plus stages, the Rock Boat lives up to its name, featuring dozens of bands. Music lovers will have plenty of opportunities to find a new favorite artist. If you need a break from the intensity, check out an acoustic set at the Spinnaker Lounge.
Ship: Norwegian Pearl
Port of departure: Miami, FL
Itinerary: Harvest Caye, Belize; Roatan, Honduras
Artists: Sister Hazel, NEEDTOBREATHE, Switchfoot, Tonic, Red Wanting Blue, Welshly Arms, Gaelic Storm, Carbon Leaf, Tall Heights, Melodime, Wideawake featuring The Kin, The Brevet, Amy Gerhartz, Animal Years, Brett Newski & The No Tomorrow
Blue Note at Sea
Jazz fans are no doubt familiar with the Blue Note name. The label has been at the forefront of jazz for almost 80 years. Don Was, the label’s president, helped dream up this cruise, which focuses on contemporary jazz musicians.